In her July 27 interview on FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume, Kerry-Edwards '04 campaign manager Mary Beth Cahill told host Brit Hume that a photo of Senator John Kerry visiting NASA's Kennedy Space Center was leaked to the media by Kerry opponents. After the interview, Hume cast Cahill as a liar by falsely reporting that a "NASA spokesman" had contradicted Cahill by insisting that "none of those photos was released to the media" and that "the pictures were given to the Kerry campaign to review before several were posted on the Kennedy Space Center website." Hume concluded, "Therefore, says NASA, there was no leak."
The photo depicted Kerry on his hands and knees, wearing a so-called "clean suit," crawling out of the space shuttle Discovery during his tour of the Space Center.
But minutes after Hume's assertion, on FOX Report with Shepard Smith, FOX chief political correspondent Carl Cameron strongly suggested that an unauthorized leak had occurred when he reported an additional detail that Hume had omitted: namely that NASA "gave most of those pictures to the Kerry campaign for them to review, but that one picture that we just showed you [of Kerry on his knees wearing the clean suit], they say, they didn't make public." Indeed, a search for "John Kerry" in the NASA/Kennedy Space Center Multimedia Gallery turns up 13 photos of Kerry's recent visit, but not the one of Kerry on all fours.
Within hours of Hume's remarks, FOX News posted an article on its website recounting Cahill's allegation and Hume's flawed reporting but omitting Cameron's subsequent clarification. On July 28, The Washington Times cited Hume's report and FOXNews.com's article in its report on Cahill's accusation. The Washington Times similarly suggested that NASA officials had contradicted Cahill's accusation.
Discussion of the photos originally began on the morning of July 27, when the New York Post and the Boston Herald -- owned, respectively, by right-wing media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Patrick Purcell, a former executive in Murdoch's News Corporation -- printed the photo on their front pages, accompanied by splashy headlines. While the Republican Party distributed the picture of Kerry juxtaposed with the infamous photo of former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis riding a tank while wearing an infantry helmet, cable news outlets ran the photos throughout the day and made the same comparison.